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Posted at 01:50 PM ET, 11/29/2011

Airlines trade group gets new name — you still pay for baggage

The Air Transport Association (ATA), the venerable trade group of the main U.S. airlines, is changing its name to “Airlines for America” apparently with a slogan of “We Connect the World.”
A Delta Airlines jet takes off from Reagan National Airport in August during the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration. (Jonathan Ernst - Reuters)

But after 75 years of being known by its original name, why bother to change now? After all, these rebranding efforts are not cheap. In fact, we’ve heard they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars — or more. Some organizations hire pollsters to test possible options, others use focus groups before deciding on a new name.

And once the decision is made, you’ve got to change the stationery, signage, business cards and other related marketing materials, re-do the Web site and so on.

An ATA official, asked why the name change, told us: “We think Airlines for America sounds like the perfect name for such an important industry that literally connects the U.S. to the global economy.”

The new name is kinda catchy — if fatuous. One wag suggested they should have changed the name to Airlines for Themselves given the alacrity with which they pocketed some $400 million — rather than reduce fares — last summer when a federal ticket tax expired for a couple weeks.

All the majors but Alaska Airlines continued to collect the 7.5 percent tax and a ticket fee. (There was some half-hearted chat in Congress about recouping that windfall but naturally that went nowhere.)

Apparently this move — the new name was registered Sept. 28 — has been on close hold pending a big rollout Wednesday night on the Hill.

Whatever the name, many AFA members, as we noted last summer, will still try to charge for blankets, bags and leg room and maybe stick it to active-duty military trying to re-book their flights.

This story has been updated.

By  |  01:50 PM ET, 11/29/2011

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